Unstructured Space

Kara Powell | Nov 17, 2009

Photo by Daiga Ellaby

Last week we had 20 super sharp youth workers at Fuller in Pasadena for a Sticky Faith Summit. The summit revolved around the Hurt research of my friend and colleague, Dr. Chap Clark, as well as our College Transition Project.

Ken Knipp is the V.P. for Training with Young Life and a member of our FYI Advisory Council. He said something during our summit that impacted me both as a parent and a youth worker.

One of our findings is that there is a relationship between kids having the chance to express and explore their doubt in high school and higher faith maturity in college. We were talking about how to help parents give space for their kids to express doubt and Ken said, “I really think a key element is that families enjoy unstructured time together.” He reasoned that families that knew how to just be together would eventually be safe places for honest dialogue.

I don’t know of many families that enjoy time together, let alone unstructured time together. Even tonight we have a free night and I’ve started thinking to myself: should we take a walk as a family? Or play games together? Or read in bed?

I’ve decided NOT to structure our time tonight ahead of time. I want to enjoy unstructured time with my own kids.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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